Result aside, the Kings can’t be too upset about how Friday’s game ended.
Matt Barnes did his job. He forced Devin Booker into a tough shot.
“I think Matt played good, tough defense,” said Kings All-Star DeMarcus Cousins. “He hit a tough shot. It’s what it is. It happens.”
Booker banked in a 20-foot, fadeaway jumper over Barnes at the buzzer to give the Phoenix Suns a 105-103 win over the Kings at Golden 1 Center. With that kind of shot, all the Kings could do is congratulate Booker on making the most out of a difficult situation, or chalk it up to a lucky carom off the glass.
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“(Booker) took a contested 20 footer,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger. “I don’t know how (he made it).”
Booker can explain.
“I know Matt Barnes is a really good defender,” Booker said. “... I just wanted to pick a spot, get there, and know where I’m shooting. So like I said, Matt being a really good defender, I knew I wasn’t going to get a clean look. But I took the look that I got.”
If there was something to be angry about, it was that the Kings were even in position to lose.
The Kings have lost three in a row, each time blowing a double-digit lead – this one to the team with the worst record in the Western Conference at 16-34.
And while the Kings have had issues with the officiating in each of the losses, they’ve also had a habit of throwing the ball away too much. Sacramento gave up 22 points off turnovers Friday, including 17 in the second half.
And then there was Booker.
The second-year guard scored 26 of his game-high 33 points in the second half to help offset DeMarcus Cousins’ 22 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists, his second triple-double of the season and sixth of his career.
Booker scored 15 points in the third quarter.
He found P.J. Tucker for a 3-pointer to give Phoenix a 103-101 lead with 21.6 seconds to play. After Darren Collison tied the score on a 15-foot jumper with 8.2 seconds to play, Booker delivered the game-winner.
“It was a great defense,” said Kings guard Ben McLemore. “... Tough shot, man. I take my hat off to him.”
T.J. Warren added 21 points and Eric Bledsoe had 20 for Phoenix.
McLemore scored a season-high 18 points, starting in place of Arron Afflalo (stomach virus). The Kings were also without Rudy Gay (Achilles), Garrett Temple (hamstring) and Omri Casspi (calf), so McLemore’s big contribution was needed after he’d been out of the rotation.
“We need every guy in this locker room,” Cousins said. “We’re aware of the injuries we’re dealing with now.”
They’re also dealing with officiating. They are still bothered by calls, and that becomes more evident after losses.
“I don’t think we get the same respect as other teams in this league, which is obvious,” Cousins said. “I’m not going to go into details on that but you can pretty much read between the lines. It never really goes our way, never really get the benefit of the doubt, it just is what it is. It’s just the cards we’ve been dealt. We just have to find a way to overcome it.”
When Cousins was asked about Booker breaking out in the second half, he again alluded to his frustration with the officials.
“I could get going if I was going to the free-throw line that many times,” Cousins said. “I’d get going too.”